The Vices of Debating Racial Epithets in Danish News Media Discourse

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This chapter offers an analysis of the Danish “negro” debate that has been predominant in the public media for the last decade. Based on the news media analysis authors examine two prevalent arguments: the argument of etymology and the argument of post-racism and freedom of speech. Authors approach the racial epithet as an artefact that is situated in a historically-laden construction of inferiority and superiority. The debate that is centered around the morally laden question ‘may we say it or not?’ reveal the clash between those who see the use of the word as a cultural right to the freedom of speech and those who see the historical circumstances of colonialism and slavery embedded in the word. Authors conclude that there is no such thing as a neutral identity-category, as such the word “negro” and the “n-word” as a substitute to it, both function as signifiers for two or more competing figured words. Moreover, the authors argue, that reducing the debate into an issue of “may or may not” is a missed opportunity to seriously examine, analyze, and debate racial processes in Danish society.
Original languageDanish
Title of host publicationRacialization, Racism, and Anti-Racism in the Nordic Countries
EditorsPeter Hervik
Number of pages19
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication year27 Aug 2018
Pages163-181
ISBN (print)978-3-319-74629-6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes
SeriesApproaches to Social Inequality and Difference

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